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“Annual Reconciliation Survey finds most still feel a united SA is possible, despite the gap between the rich and the poor”

Since the South African Reconciliation Barometer’s (SARB) inception in 2003, most South Africans have indicated their preference for a united South African nation. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation released the latest SARB findings in Cape Town this morning.

The percentage of South Africans agreeing that a united South Africa is desirable in 2017 reached 75.3%. Optimism about the potential for a more unified society follows a similar trend to the desirability of greater unity. The majority of South Africans – 68% – believed in 2017 that it is possible to create an united South Africa.

Only 56.1% of South Africans, however, agree that South Africa has made progress in reconciliation since the end of apartheid.

Fewer than half of South Africans report that their friends and family have experienced reconciliation after the end of apartheid. Seven in ten (73.5%) South Africans feel that South Africa still needs reconciliation, while 63.4% agree that reconciliation is impossible for as long as people who were disadvantaged under apartheid remain poor.

The “gap between rich and poor” is furthermore ranked as the biggest source of division by SARB respondents in 2017. The ranking of inequality as the greatest source of social division in the country has prevailed since the inception of the SARB in 2003 (with two exceptions).

Processes of reconciliation need guidance and involvement of individuals, institutions and leadership. The SARB 2017 asked respondents whether they think the involvement of specific institutions is important for reconciliation.

More than six in ten South Africans believe that the involvement of various institutions listed – CSOs, business, religious and faith-based organisations and family, friends and individuals – is important.

The role of national government and elected representatives in reconciliation was also deemed important by most South Africans, trust in these institutions has decreased to the point of systemic erosion. Confidence in institutions in 2017 is the lowest it has been since 2006 in Parliament, national government and provincial government.

The SARB 2017’s data shows that confidence in the ANC at the time of surveying was also low – with only 33% of South Africans reporting that they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the ANC, while 49.8% of South Africans report they feel close to the ANC over a long period of time.

The main opposition parties expected to contend the 2019 national election include the DA and the EFF, in which 23.5% and 19.1% of South Africans have confidence respectively. Importantly, 25,6% of South Africans do not feel close to any political party.

This finding is coupled with low voting and political efficacy levels, with more than half of voting-age South Africans (55.6%) surveyed by the SARB agreeing with the statement that ‘Voting is meaningless because no politician can be trusted’.

This holds implications of the national elections in 2019, as well as for reconciliation processes which are more likely to thrive in societies where democratic political culture exists.

  • An electronic copy of the latest SA Reconciliation Barometer is available on request from 079 500 1503. It can also be downloaded from the IJR website


Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

For more information, contact Martin Slabbert-Capper

Newsroom Manager: HWB Communications Pty Ltd

Tel: 021 421 0430/ 079 500 1503